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  • Members’ Research – Children and ‘Return’ Migration

    Marie Cure Migrant Children Project 2005-2009
    Strand D
    Children and ‘Return’ Migration:
    Children’s and young people’s experiences of moving to Ireland with their return migrant parent(s)

    Caitríona Ní Laoire
    Dept. of Geography, University College Cork

    Returning Irish migrants are a numerically important and often overlooked in-migrant group in contemporary Ireland. Children and young people in this group are particularly invisible, a generation who have been born in England, the US or elsewhere, into an Irish migrant family, and have ‘returned’ to live in Ireland in recent years with their parents. The notion of ‘coming home’ for them raises many issues of identity and belonging. On the one hand, they are likely to share similar experiences with other migrant children, associated with moving from a familiar to an unfamiliar place, and with possible experiences of dislocation, loss and exclusion. On the other hand, their familial ties and support structures in Ireland, and their sense of attachment or belonging to Ireland, are likely to be stronger than they are for other immigrant children. It is intended that this strand of the research will provide an interesting comparative perspective on the experiences of child migration in Ireland in the context of the broader research programme. This research is funded by the EU Commission through a Marie Curie Excellence Grant.Previous research: Narratives of Migration and Return Project, UCC
    Research with adult return migrants during 2003-5 revealed that ‘children’ were an important part of their stories of return.

    • The desire to bring up children in Ireland was often stated as one of the reasons for returning.
    • They often hope that their children will migrate when they are older.
    • In the case of ‘mixed parents’, return migrants often expressed a sense of pride in their children’s dual identities.
    • This new research aims to explore the children’s own voices in relation to return migration.

    Research Aim

    The research aims to contribute to understandings of the experiences of children and young people who move to Ireland with their return migrant parent(s).

    Research Questions
    The research will explore

    • the experiences of migration to Ireland among children of return migrants
    • the extent and nature of their involvement in peer networks, exploring processes of inclusion, exclusion and otherness
    • the extent and nature of their involvement in family, local and kin networks, exploring processes of inclusion, exclusion and otherness
    • constructions of Irishness and the negotiation of national, local and transnational identities among the children and young people, through the lens of transnationalism, hybridity and theories of diaspora
    • children’s sense of home, their memories of other homes and feelings of belonging or loss
    • the implications of ‘return’ migration for children and young people, in terms of general well-being and education
    • the influence of the ‘sending’ context, in terms of language, identity issues and school
    • the extent of children’s prior knowledge of Ireland, from parents, families and having spent holidays in Ireland
    • the family/parental context
    • the notion of return migration being ‘for the sake of the children’
    • parents’ motivations for return and the influence of this on the children’s experiences
    • the family migration decision-making processes, the involvement of children, and the speed of decision-making
    • parents’ hopes, fears and expectations for their children in context of dominant notions of Ireland as home and a safe place
    • parents’ views of their children’s experiences of ‘return’ migration
    • parents’ own experiences of return and how they may impact upon the children’s experiences
    • the parallels and divergence in experience between children in return migrant families and children in other migrant families
    • the extent of the invisibility of return migrant children and the implications of this.
      Methodology and Research Strategy

    The methodology will draw on recent developments in children’s geographies and new social studies of childhood. It will be guided by the principle of children’s and young people’s agency and subjectivity, as well as the ‘children in families’ approach. The approach will be primarily qualitative, incorporating participatory and child-centred techniques, together with some analysis of Census 2006 data as background.

    Three strands
    1. Family-based research with return migrant families in their homes across Ireland.
    2. Locality study: A local study of one locality where there is a significant local population of return migrants.
    3. School-based team research with children from all backgrounds, commencing with the Cork city primary schools pilot project.

    The research techniques may include interviews with older children, teens and parents, drawings with young children, timeline charts, circle maps, essays with older ages, among others.

    Longitudinal perspective
    This would be useful for the family-based research in order to capture the effect of length of time in Ireland and of age on children’s experiences. It would involve conducting follow-up interviews with participants approximately one year after the initial interviews.

    Contact details:

    If you would like to get involved in any way, do not hesitate to get in touch.

    Dr. Caitríona Ní Laoire
    Marie Curie Migrant Children Project
    6, Bloomfield Terrace,
    University College Cork

    Tel. +353-21-4903656